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Home Sweet Home

When to Replace Large Appliances: Tips and Tricks Every Homeowner Should Know

As a homeowner, you’ve probably wondered which of your appliances are worth replacing – and when the best time is to replace them. Here are some quick tips on how to know when your appliances need an upgrade.

The general lifespan of a large home appliance is between 10-20 years, depending on the quality of the appliance and what type of demand you place on it throughout its life. A single person running one or two loads of laundry a week may get more life out of a washer and dryer than a family of five with muddy soccer uniforms, work, casual, and gym clothes testing their capacity every day.

The first step in any decision to replace an appliance is to weigh the machine’s current performance and its effect on your day-to-day life. Is it always breaking down right when you need to use it? Are you concerned about the safety of your family or the integrity of your home if a component breaks? 

A faulty dishwasher could cause significant water damage to your floors and walls. And almost any appliance on its last leg might start sparking, which could ignite a fire in your home. On the milder end of the spectrum, an oven that’s not heating properly could mean burned or raw dinners and repeat last-minute calls to your local pizza place.

We’ve put together a short guide for the top 5 home appliance replacements and how to know when their time is up:

Dishwasher

  1. When to Replace

If you’ve started to notice rust developing on your machine’s internal elements, that could be a good indication it’s time to replace your dishwasher. Or if the door won’t lock, your dishes are still dirty, or you see standing water in the base or water leaking from any parts or connections, it’s maybe time for an upgrade.

  1. Price Range

You can find a decent dishwasher starting at around $400, plus the cost of installation. Of course, these days, dishwashers come with all sorts of features like bottle racks, hidden control panels, and much more, so you can make the price point almost anything you want.

Dryer

  1. When to Replace

If your dryer is doing any of these things after cleaning your lint trap and vent duct, it’s time to replace it: it won’t turn on or stops mid-cycle, your clothes aren’t drying, or strange sounds are coming from the machine while it’s running. Check for a simple fix like clearing a blocked dryer duct first, but if the issues persist, it’s both an efficiency and a safety concern that warrants a replacement.

  1. Price Range

Dryers run from about $400 for a basic model to $1800 for app-controlled capabilities or moisture sensors. 

Photo: zoranm via gettyimages.com

Refrigerator

  1. When to Replace

A refrigerator should be retired when it’s no longer keeping your food cold or when it’s packing your freezer with a tundra of frost. Either of these issues points to failing or inefficient parts. Additionally, if the normal refrigerator hum seems excessively loud, the motor could be nearing failure.  

  1. Price Range

Refrigerators range in price from about $500 for the simplest, no-frills model to $3,000 for a smart version that can keep track of your grocery list on its computerized door.

Stove/Oven

  1. When to Replace

If you notice rust forming in the interior of the oven or it’s heating food unevenly, it’s probably time to say goodbye. If the glass on your oven door or the surface of your stovetop is cracked, or if the heating elements take a very long time to heat up, you’re probably better off finding a replacement.

  1. Price Range

Oven ranges run about $500 to several thousand dollars for commercial-style double-ovens. You can go for simple and standard or any combination of induction, convection, and air fry features. 

Washing Machine

  1. When to Replace

As with dishwashers, if your washing machine is leaking or leaving standing water in the basin, it’s time to replace it. Washing machines may also begin to make loud noises while running or even move around with all the unbalanced motion of the cycle. You can check the laundry’s balance in the load, but if that doesn’t fix the problem, start looking into replacements.

  1. Price Range

You can get a small, portable top-loading washing machine for $250, a high-efficiency commercial front-loading machine for $1800, or anything in between.

If any home appliance is starting to give you trouble and it’s already several years old, the cost to replace it is worth the safety and quality of life you’ll receive in return. Use these tips to help you gauge when to start shopping for a replacement!

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Home Sweet Home

Make Your Home Safer with These Tips

You fasten your seatbelt when you get in the car, and you wear oven mitts when you grab cookies out of the oven – so what should you be doing as a homeowner to keep your house and family safe? We’ve compiled a list of some simple home safety tips that can protect you and your family and give you peace of mind.

Check Your Detectors

Set a reminder to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month. All it takes is holding down the test button for a few seconds and listening for the alarm. If the alarm doesn’t sound or sounds weak, replace the batteries and test it again. If you have a large home, it’s a good idea to have another member of your family stand at a distance from the detector to ensure you’ll be able to hear it no matter where you are in the house.

Hang Fire Extinguishers

Ensure you have a fire extinguisher available in the most vulnerable areas: kitchen, garage, and next to the fireplace. It’s a good idea to have a 10-lb extinguisher in the garage and a 5-lb extinguisher in the kitchen. Did you know that there are different types of fire extinguishers? There are extinguishers for fires started by combustibles, flammable liquids, or electrical issues – however, you can buy a combination extinguisher that can take on any of these types of fires. 

Secure Handrails 

We all rely on our indoor and outdoor handrails – especially if you have children and/or older family members living with you. It takes just a few minutes to ensure all screws and fasteners are secured to the walls, posts, and railings. Make a point to check their security every year as they can loosen again with heavy use.

Add Grip to Slippery Surfaces

Stairs and bathtubs are the biggest culprits for slips and falls in the home. It’s simple and cheap to add treads and bathtub mats to provide traction in these areas to prevent injury and add peace of mind. Keep in mind that if you use a rug for this purpose, it needs to have a rubber bottom to hold firmly to the floor underneath it.

Photo: Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir via gettyimages.com

Unplug Appliances

It may seem simple, but even unplugging your toaster when it’s not in use makes your home that much safer. A quick power surge could overwhelm your small appliance and spark a fire in an instant – but if the appliance isn’t connected to the wall, it won’t be susceptible to the power surge. 

Anchor Furniture 

This is especially important for households with small children, but falling furniture can hurt anyone! And it doesn’t have to be cheap, light furniture either – a sturdy bookcase or dresser can topple just as easily with the right leverage. Furniture anchors are often nylon or plastic straps that loop through pieces attached to both the furniture and the wall. They’re quick and easy to install and prevent accidents from turning into injuries.

Install Lighting in Dark Areas

If you have a particularly dim hallway or staircase, a light source can prevent everything from a stub of the toe to a more serious slip-on stray clutter. You might choose to add a lamp in the corner or attach a motion-sensing LED puck to the ceiling. Your local hardware store will have multiple options for you to choose from.

Clean Your Dryer Vent

Did you know that lint trapped in your dryer vent can cause a fire? Cleaning your vent at least once a year can help prevent this issue. Simply unplug your dryer, disconnect the duct, and vacuum and brush out the vent and duct.

Lock Away Cleaners, Paints, and Medicines

Again, this tip may seem the most obvious for families with small children, but even adults can absentmindedly mistake one medication for another or assume cleaner in an unmarked bottle is something it’s not. If all your cleaners, paints, and medicines are locked away, you and your family will be intentional about using them.

Make these safety checks part of your routine and spend an afternoon updating your house to promote the highest safety standards. They’re some of the simplest ways to protect the ones you love the most!

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Home Sweet Home

10 Tips and Tricks to Make Cleaning Your Home A Breeze

Enjoying a clean home is one of the best feelings and helps keep you and your family healthy. But no one wants to spend all day cleaning! It’s important to maximize your time so you can clean quickly, with as little effort as possible, and have more free time to do what you love. Try these ten simple tips and tools to get your spring cleaning done in a snap. 

1. Schedule Cleaning Days

Cleaning everything at once can feel overwhelming and daunting. Instead of saving the whole house for one day, make a cleaning schedule – Kitchen on Monday, Bathrooms on Tuesday, etc. Once a month, schedule a time to clean things that are a bit harder to reach, like your baseboards and that high cabinet you have to get a step stool to get to!

2. Follow an Organized System

First, simply tidy up the room you’re focusing on. Put toys back in their bins, return pens to their drawers, and clear the floors. Try to declutter a bit every day, returning items to where they belong, so this step goes even faster.

Worktop to bottom in a circle around each room. Try dusting first – starting up high, so the dust falls to the floor – and do a loop around the room, dusting items and surfaces as you go.

Then, clean mirrors, stains, crumbs, etc., and finish the room by vacuuming or sweeping the floors. Another pro tip: when you vacuum, plug it in strategically in the middle of the room, so you don’t have to keep unplugging and replugging it as you move around!

3. Set a Timer

Keep yourself on track by setting a timer (cleaning also won’t feel so difficult if you know you have a set time to tidy up). Use one that’s not on your phone to help avoid distractions. Set a reasonable time – 15-30 minutes –  and dedicate it to cleaning, nothing else. Try listening to a podcast or audiobook, so you stay engaged and have fun!

4. Organize Your Cleaning Tools

Organize all your tools into an easy-to-carry portable cleaning caddy. Carry this with you as you move from room to room, so you have fast access to everything you need.

5. Use Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Microfibre cleaning cloths can be used to clean everything from walls to counters to floors. Plus, they’re reusable, durable, easy to launder, and last for a long time!

They’re also perfect for dusting and more affordable and sustainable than other leading dusters. Lightly dampen the cloth by spraying a mist of water on it with a spray bottle to dust.

Photo: YinYang via gettyimages.com

6. Get an Eco-Friendly Multi-Surface Cleaner

PUR Home creates non-toxic, eco-friendly products that work incredibly well. Their natural multi-surface cleaner is free of sulphates, parabens, dyes, ammonia, and synthetic fragrances – and is safe enough to be used everywhere, including your child’s crib and toys!

7. Try Vinegar for Glass and Mirrors

What’s even more affordable and just as effective as other glass cleaners? Vinegar! You can use it to clean windows and mirrors. Simply pour plain distilled white vinegar, like the kind you likely already have in your kitchen, into a spray bottle and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.

8. Microwave Cleaner Tool

A notoriously dirty place in your house is the microwave. This special Volcano Microwave Cleaner tool will remove even the most caked-on food. Simply pour in water and vinegar, turn on the microwave, and watch the food grease dissolve! You can even put in a few drops of lemon to add a fresh scent. 

9. Magic Erasers!

This cleaning tool really is magic. Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser can clean almost any surface in every room of your house. It removes difficult stains, ink, and even crayon marks! It’s great to use in the bathroom, as you can use it on the bathtub, shower, sinks, countertops, walls, and toilet.

10. Get the Whole Family Involved

The more people who can help you clean your house, the faster it will go! If you have older kids, ask them to help with tasks like dusting or vacuuming. Give everyone a role or a room, and you’ll all finish cleaning your home together even quicker. Play some upbeat music and make it fun! After all, caring for your house is a way of celebrating your home and all you have.

Use these tips the next time you start cleaning your home, and you’ll be done before you know it!

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Home Sweet Home

Home Upgrade Guide: DIY Project or Call a Pro?

One of the biggest perks of being a homeowner is customizing and upgrading your space whenever and however you want. Even small projects like a new paint job can transform a room’s look in just one day. However, it can be easy to start a project you think will only take a few days, and it ends up being something way more complicated than you anticipated! Sometimes, it’s just better to start with a professional. 

Below, we’ll break down easy home improvement ideas that you can do in each room of your home and cover the projects requiring professional expertise. While you might think you can pull off more challenging work, many systems in your home can be dangerous without proper training. Use this guide to stay out of harm’s way while upgrading your space. 

Kitchen

DIY

Anyone can transform the look of their kitchen without the need for contracted help. With plenty of painter’s tape and patience, painting your cabinets can dramatically change the aesthetic. Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls typically only require a screwdriver to change and can make a subtle, personal upgrade to your cooking area. There are even kits to restore or completely change the look of your countertops in just a few hours. 

Call a Professional 

Any kitchen appliance repair is best left to the experts. Working on your home’s water lines without plumbing experience can lead to larger issues and expensive repairs. This means any dishwasher, garbage disposal, and sink repairs shouldn’t be performed by most homeowners. Whether gas or electric, ovens can be hazardous for amateur repair. Make sure your new appliances include installation with delivery and call a professional when repairs are needed. 

Photo: tulcarion via gettyimages.com

Bathroom

DIY

There are also endless bathroom upgrades just about anyone can do themselves. A new vanity might be in order, but with some paint, new knobs, and maybe even a new mirror, you can turn any old vanity into something out of a magazine. Wall-attached mirrors are also easy to replace, and with a few standard tools and an extra set of hands, you can upgrade that old mirror with something more your style. Consider a peel-and-stick backsplash option to add a little flair to your bathrooms and match the theme of your home throughout.

Call a Professional

Bathroom repairs that seem straightforward can often be tricky and require a plumber. Consult a professional if you have leaky pipes or want to rearrange fixtures within your bathroom. Other than trying to stop a leak to prevent water damage, any plumbing repairs need to be left to the pros. Most people can regrout a tile shower, but removing and replacing existing tile can be very challenging for beginners. Hire a contractor for any significant bathroom renovations to guarantee quality work. 

Everywhere Else

DIY

From living rooms and bedrooms to home offices and entertainment spaces, there are numerous ways to upgrade where you spend the vast majority of your time. Instead of replacing your old carpets, try renting a carpet cleaner to restore what’s already in place. After just one cleaning, dingy carpets will start to look like new. Like backsplashes, peel and stick wallpaper is trendy and an easy way to provide a custom look anywhere in your home. Curtains and blinds are easily replaced and can significantly change the look of a room. If you’d like to try your hand with woodworking, pallet wood accent walls look fantastic and are an easy project for beginners to try. 

Call a Professional

Like kitchens and bathrooms, steering clear of your home’s internal systems is the easiest way to stay safe. An expert should repair any other home appliances like washers and dryers or air conditioners. Changing light fixtures or adding ceiling fans is a job for skilled electricians only. When pressurized water and gas or electricity is involved, it’s best to defer to the pros.

With a little work, you can make dramatic upgrades to your home in a short time. Stick with cosmetic changes, and leave any electric or plumbing issues for professional repair. One project can make all the difference, so start upgrading today!

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Home Sweet Home

DIY Home Lighting Ideas to Brighten Your Day

Indoor lighting doesn’t just keep you from stubbing your toes in the dark – it also sets the tone and creates the atmosphere for each room in your home. Good lighting can influence your productivity and enhance your mood – that’s why it’s so important to get it right! 

If the lighting in your home has been the same since you moved in, or there are dark corners here and harsh, bare bulbs there, take a look at some of these quick DIY home lighting upgrades to make the most of your space and brighten your day. 

  1. Smart Lights

Smart lights allow you to control the lighting in your home from your phone or smart home device. Some options can be voice-controlled through Alexa or Google Home and can have wake-up and sleep modes that will gradually brighten or dim at a specified time to help you wake up or get to sleep – perfect for those nightstand lamps. Smart lights are also one of the most versatile options as far as setting the mood. Change between dozens of colours and adjust the warmth and brightness for the activity or atmosphere.

  1. Nightlight Outlets 

Make your outlets do double duty by converting them into nightlights (and you won’t take up one of the outlets with a plug!). Nightlight outlets are great for bathrooms or dark hallways with a gentle light that illuminates from the bottom of the outlet cover. They’re designed to work with all standard outlets. 

They are also a great option for kids’ bedrooms as the light strip runs between the two outlets, and it turns on automatically at night. Choose between five different light levels for exactly as much as you need to scare away those monsters under the bed.

  1. Solar Lights 

You don’t have to have solar panels to use solar lights. There are a number of available options for portable or fixed solar lighting. You can use them as a lamp or as a task light in dark corners, closets, and crawl spaces. With a short charging time in the sun, you’ll have 6-7 hours of light that gradually dims as it loses charge. These solar lights can be a great option for your deck, walkway, garage, or any other place that either receives sunlight during the day or that you access sporadically. An added benefit of portable solar lights is the ability to take them with you when you go camping!

Photo: sturti via gettyimages.com

  1. Under-Cabinet Light Strips

Use under-cabinet lighting to enhance your cooking experience or illuminate your workspace in a laundry room or workshop. The installation is as easy as a peel-and-stick adhesive or two small screws, and you’ll have twenty inches of motion-activated lighting right where you need it. Some brands have a full dimming range that you can adjust by simply holding your hand under the light and even has a memory for your last brightness setting. 

  1. Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches are one of the easiest ways to upgrade your current home lighting situation. These switches are easy to install and allow you to adjust your lighting to the time of day and mood. Baby’s naptime? Dim the lights in the nursery. Need to see the smallest detail of that DIY repair? Use the toggle switch to get maximum brightness in the den.

Your home’s lighting can transform dark or uninviting areas into warm, cozy nooks and clear, bright work and living spaces. These quick DIY upgrades will help you create the perfect mood and functionality in every room!

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Home Sweet Home

Do This, Not That: Best Ways to Upgrade Your Home (And What Not To Do)

Want to increase your home’s value? Here are our top 5 house projects, inside and out, that will up your home’s value and increase your day-to-day enjoyment of living in it.

What To Do

  1. Kitchen Appliances (energy-efficient)

One of the first home upgrades we think of when someone says “remodel” is the kitchen. Yes, we love the look of those farmhouse apron sinks and stylish cupboards, but nothing beats an all-around appliance upgrade. Appliances are what make a kitchen functional and your time in it enjoyable. These days, refrigerator options range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, and the same for stoves, dishwashers, and other extras (did someone say built-in espresso machine?). 

So what should you choose when upgrading your kitchen appliances? You don’t need to spend your entire year’s salary on a remodel to increase your home’s value. Go with energy-efficient, sleek, and consistent. Make sure your kitchen has a coherent, modern style with unquestionable function, but don’t go all-out. It’s easy to get all kinds of inspiration from websites like Pinterest! 

  1. Bathrooms

If you can find the space for it in your home’s footprint, adding a bathroom will give you the highest return on the dollar. But even if you’re just looking to upgrade your existing bathrooms, doing so will add instant resale value. A new vanity and mirror, or even just a fresh coat of paint, go a long way here. 

  1. Basement 

Finish that basement. You’ll add to the square footage of your house, giving you and the future occupant more living space or even the option to create a room for rent or an apartment for an aging relative!

  1. Energy Efficiency 

Boost your home’s energy efficiency by upgrading insulation in the walls and attic (or installing insulation where there previously was none). You’ll reduce your energy bills and appeal to prospective buyers who are looking to do the same. 

  1. Curb Appeal 

As we’ve mentioned above, a fresh coat of paint can go a long way in making a home look modern and well-kept. Add landscaping to this list for curb appeal. Trim shrubs and plant a couple dozen water-wise plants to bring aesthetic appeal to your front yard. Again, it doesn’t have to be the most elaborate landscaping design and expensive hardscape features. Keep the outside looking good, and buyers assume the insides are just as well-maintained and attractive. 

We’ll also throw in a note about decks, while we’re outside. Decks add square footage without as much of a cost investment as adding another room, so they can be a great outdoor upgrade to increase your home’s value, as well.

Photo: JohnnyGreig via gettyimages.com

What Not to Do

Basically, the what-not-to-do list can be summed up as “don’t go deluxe.”

Don’t go all out with the fanciest, most expensive hardware, appliances, and finishes unless it’s just something you can’t live without while you still call this house your home. Most buyers don’t want to pay extra for something they consider unnecessary, so those high-end bathroom fixtures probably won’t add to your home’s overall value.

Getting Started

Remember, these upgrades can increase your own enjoyment of your home while you’re still living in it – so you don’t have to wait until you’re ready to put your house on the market! And you don’t have to go deluxe to see the benefit of these upgrades. If, or when, you sell, you’ll recoup a lot of the cost in the value you’ve added to your home, and in the meantime, you’ll enjoy a little added comfort and aesthetic pleasure.

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Home Sweet Home

Health Begins at Home: How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

You’re probably familiar with “spring cleaning,” where everyone throws open their windows to freshen up their homes. There’s a reason for this – staying inside all winter with minimal ventilation makes the air stale, and pollutants can easily build up. Your home’s air quality directly affects your family’s health, so taking steps to improve the air circulating in your home will have lasting benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about your indoor air quality and how to improve it.

How Bad is Your Air?

Before you do anything, consider buying an air quality monitor for your home. This version from Breathe measures even the smallest particles and will alert you when the air quality index (AQI) is too high. A “good” AQI is under 50, so if your air stays above 50 consistently, short and long-term health problems can develop (including asthma, allergies, trouble breathing, headaches, etc.).

What Are Indoor Pollutants?

The air inside our homes can be more polluted than outdoor air, especially in the winter. Dust, dander, and allergens get stuck in carpets/rugs, so make sure to clean these frequently. Carbon monoxide and radon are also harmful air pollutants, so install monitors to alert you when these levels are too high; in the winter, fireplaces are often the source of carbon monoxide leaks, so get yours serviced regularly. Other household products, like cleaners and home fragrances, can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, so check the labels on your products and switch to cleaner versions if necessary.

Photo: fatihhoca via gettyimages.com

Solutions

The first step to improving your air quality is to decrease as many sources of pollutants as you can. But no amount of traditional cleaning will improve your air as well as filters and purification systems. Here are the important components to know about when choosing a purification system that’s right for your home.

HEPA Filters – What we think of as common air pollutants (dust, mould, dander, etc.) can be captured by a HEPA filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are designed to capture at least 99.97% of particulates that are 0.3 microns in diameter. Non-HEPA (or “HEPA-like,” “99% HEPA”, etc.) filters will have much lower rates of particle capture, so it’s best to avoid them. HEPA filters won’t do anything about gasses, odours, or some viruses and bacteria, and because they trap the unwanted particles, they need to be changed and/or cleaned regularly.

Activated Carbon Filters – Need to remove gasses, odours, or other VOCs? Activated carbon filters can trap gas molecules and effectively remove them from the air. The “activated” part of this filter means the carbon has gone through a process that adds tiny carbon pores where the molecules get trapped. These filters are most effective when they use higher concentrations of carbon and are changed regularly.

UV Light – If trapping unwanted particles is good, wouldn’t destroying them be better? Photocatalytic purification (or just UV light purification) uses UV light to activate a process that sends energy to break apart harmful molecules, thus destroying rather than trapping them. UV light is harmful to human cells, too, so be careful not to expose your skin or eyes for too long (almost all systems have the UV light behind barriers, so you’re safe). UV light effectively kills many viruses and bacteria that HEPA filters can miss, but purifying air using UV light takes longer, so you need a big unit(s) and/or need to keep a UV purifier running longer for results. You’ll also have to replace the catalyst eventually (so read the manual carefully).

Standalone/Portable Units – The easiest and most inexpensive way to purify your home’s air is to buy several standalone/portable purifiers. Each model will indicate the square footage it covers and what kind of filter(s) it uses. Look for models where it’s easy to replace the filter(s), and the air refresh rate is at least 2.5 times an hour. For a great model that uses HEPA, activated carbon, and UV, try the MOOKA purifier. For a wide range of sizes and price points, check out the models at Levoit – many have built-in monitors to turn off and on as needed.

Central Air Units – If you’d like to make sure that all of the air in your home is consistently purified, then look into attaching filters and UV light systems to your central air. Your HVAC technician can suggest options that fit with your current setup, like HEPA filters for your furnace and A/C. Whole-house UV light systems are becoming popular as a way to kill viruses and bacteria before the cold/warm air is circulated back into your home. While these system additions are expensive, they often have extended warranties and are ultimately the most effective way to tackle all your home’s pollutants at once.

Cleaning the air in your home not only makes it more pleasant but helps keep your family healthy. Invest in a quality air purification system today!

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Home Sweet Home

4 Ways to Fill Your Home with Cozy Scents this Winter

Winter days often find us inside seeking comfort and warmth. To create the perfect indoor atmosphere in your home, try adding some winter-inspired scents to the mix. Whether you like the traditional glow of a scented candle or the rustic approach of stovetop potpourri, the right scent in your home this winter can make you feel calm and comforted. Read on for four different ways to disperse a scent throughout your home. 

Stovetop Potpourri

For a rich, strong scent without any special tools or ingredients, try a simmering stovetop potpourri. By combining several raw ingredients with some water and simmering over low heat on your stove or a hot plate, this potpourri can fill your house with aroma all day. The best part? You can whip up a recipe that uses leftover natural materials and food you may have at home this time of year – think herbs, spices, evergreen stems, and citrus. Try this recipe that incorporates a lot of traditional winter scents and can stay on your stove for up to a week if you keep adding water. Your kids will also enjoy helping you put these pots together – send them off throughout the house to collect aromatics!

Plug-In Diffusers

A plug-in diffuser can be a great option for a strong scent that isn’t limited to the kitchen stovetop. These diffusers use electricity to warm the oils or scent pads inside, thus spreading fragrance throughout your home. Some versions don’t allow you much control over the strength of the scent, and you can’t easily “turn off” the smell from many varieties since the aroma continues to waft out of the openings, so choose wisely.

Photo: aldomurillo via gettyimages.com

Soy Candles

Candles are perhaps the most traditional way to spread fragrance throughout your house. A great choice for smaller areas and those who want the ambiance that a cozy flame adds, it’s easy to find a candle that’s just the right scent for your family. Because it’s burning the fragrance and wick, make sure to purchase soy candles made with non-toxic ingredients – some “fragrances” in household goods like candles can be harmful when inhaled over a long period. You can also practice some basic candle maintenance to ensure that you get the most out of each jar. Trim your wick to ¼ inch before each burn and allow the wax to form a full melt pool on the top each time you burn (that will avoid those frustrating craters that sometimes form in the middle of a beloved candle). Just make sure to keep candles away from little hands and paws.

Reed Diffusers

Looking for something low maintenance and minimalist? Try a reed diffuser. By putting essential oils in a glass jar and then placing reed sticks in the liquid, the oil infuses the reeds and disperses into your home over time. Most reed diffusers offer about two months of scent potency before you’ll need to refill the bottle. Flipping the reeds over every few days will also help the fragrance stay strong throughout the room. While not ideal for large spaces, reed diffusers offer a flame- and outlet-free way to infuse your home with comforting fragrance – the glass jars are also easy to match with your décor in any room, and finding the perfect vessel can sometimes be half the fun.

Add the coziness of a comforting winter aroma to your home today!

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Home Sweet Home

Improve Your Work at Home Experience with These Office Upgrades

Whether you work at home full-time, part-time, or use your office for home management work, it might need some upgrades. Creating an inviting, organized, functional, and comfortable space can lead to increased productivity and overall work enjoyment. It can also reduce common office-related ailments such as back, shoulder, neck, and wrist pain. You may just need a few minor changes or a plan for an overhaul of your space! 

Where You Sit and Work

The main components of your home office are your desk and chair. There are many styles of each, and both require some thought about how you best work. Think about what you are using currently or in past work situations. What has worked well, and what could be improved?

10 Popular Types of Desks For Your Home Office includes styles such as writing, computer, corner, floating, executive, and standing. When selecting a desk, think about what computer equipment and supplies it will hold. Do you prefer to sit or stand while working? Do you work best with minimal, uncluttered space or like to spread out your work? Keep in mind that your desk doesn’t need to be the only piece of furniture that stores everything you need! It can simply be a functional workspace, and your supplies and file storage can happen in separate cabinets or shelving units. 

There is a large variety of desk chairs to consider, too. The 14 Types of Office Chairs for your Desk list includes executive, heavy-duty, ergonomic, mesh, kneeling, gaming, and active chairs. Each one has a range of prices and features. If you experience back and shoulder pain from sitting at your desk, it is worth looking into ergonomic features for each style. Or, look for one specifically designed to accommodate all your posture needs, such as adjustable seat, tilt functions, lumbar support, and back/neck rests. Active chairs, including wobble or balance balls, address health issues related to sitting at your desk all day by incorporating movement. They are also helpful for high-energy people who struggle with sitting still for long periods. 

The Office Ambiance

It is worth the time, effort, and money to create an inviting office that feels good to be in all day. If you work from home all day and spend most of your time in this space but dread being there, it is not very motivating. 

Some simple upgrades you can make to improve the look and feel of your office include changes to your lighting, adding artwork, inspiring quotes, or photographs, and all the benefits of adding plants. You can also regulate the air temperature, smell, and quality with heaters, fans, diffusers, candles, dehumidifiers, or air purifiers. 

Photo: martin-dm via gettyimages.com

Storing All the Things

Office supplies can be fun to buy and can also take over without proper storage solutions. The home office also tends to be where paperwork for work and home ends up. You also may store other essentials in our office, like calendar events, ideas, and to-do lists. 

Storage options for files, supplies, and paperwork include:

  • Filing cabinets.
  • Hanging shelves.
  • Decorative storage boxes.
  • Pegboards.
  • Bookshelves with baskets.
  • Wire baskets.
  • File folder racks and holders.
  • Desk accessory organizers.
  • Movable storage centers. 

Pinterest can be a helpful tool for visualizing what you want your storage solutions to look like and accomplish!

Even if you use a digital calendar, it is helpful to have a hanging or desk calendar to jot down important dates or upcoming deadlines. A whiteboard, bulletin boards, or chalkboards can be helpful to keep to-do lists, ideas, important papers, or inspirational quotes front and center. 

Maintaining Good Health

Sitting at your desk for long periods can cause body pain. It can also lead to other health issues, including vascular problems, weight gain, heart disease, and even cancer. There are several ways to mitigate these risks and keep your body moving throughout the day. Keep exercise equipment such as a yoga mat, treadmill, or an under-the-desk elliptical machine in your office. Find a fun desk timer and set it to go off throughout the day as a reminder to get up, take a break, and move. 

Equipment Upgrades

With the increase of video calls in our daily work lives, having quality speakers and cameras has become necessary for most home offices. Upgrades to your screen may include a new, larger, and higher-quality monitor or adding a dual monitor system.  You may also want to consider an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and wrist pads. 

Ensuring that everything is charged and plugged in without creating a tangle of cords is also a helpful task for your home office. Charging stations, surge protectors, and cable management systems will keep everything humming and organized. 

Even a tiny upgrade to your home office, like adding a few plants, can make a big difference in how you feel when you walk into your space. Ensuring that you have all the home office equipment and features you need to be productive, healthy, and motivated may take some planning and saving, but it is a worthwhile goal!

Categories
Home Sweet Home

DIY Weekend Home Projects with a WOW Factor

If you had it in your head that a home improvement project meant a considerable time commitment and financial investment, think again. All you need is a weekend! 

That’s right: just two days to complete these DIY projects that lead to significant improvements in your home. 

Update Your Door Hardware

Updating your door hardware can be expensive if you decide to replace everything. So, have you considered painting the hardware instead? Perhaps the most difficult (and the most fun!) task may be selecting your paint colour. Oil rubbed bronze is a trending popular choice available from various paint manufacturers. Maybe black or stainless steel goes better with your decor? You only need a few tools and supplies to pull off this project:

  •  A mask to keep from breathing paint fumes
  •  Screwdriver to take the hardware off and on the doors
  • Steel wool and sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • A box or styrofoam to hold the screws in place while you paint
  • A cloth or cardboard to protect the area where you are painting
  • Primer and spray paint

Be sure to keep the parts for each door separate or labelled by room so you don’t have to struggle to rematch the parts when the paint has dried. And while it may test your patience, wait a full 24 hours before replacing the hardware to ensure you don’t make smudges. This budget-friendly fix costs less than $20 and takes two days to complete. 

Shiplap Your Entryway

Want to add character and detail to just about any room in your home? Beadboard, also called wainscoting or shiplap, are great modern choices that complement various home styles, including traditional, beach, and cottage homes. Adding beadboard or shiplap to a wall or entryway isn’t that complicated. Here are the tools and supplies you will need:

  • Miter, table, and jigsaws
  • 1/4-inch plywood underlayment and 1×3 hobby boards
  • Stud finder, level, and measuring tape
  • Brad nailer
  •  2-inch finish nails
  • Palm sander
  • Paint in your color of choice. 
  • Spacers, like quarters or popsicle sticks as spacers
  • Caulk
  • 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch quarter trim (inside corners),  1 1/8-inch outside corner molding (for outside corners)

Shiplap continues to be a popular decorating craze. Shiplap the easy way for a timeless look for any wall or room in your home. Then, sit back and wait for the compliments! Your family and friends will be amazed that you did this in a weekend for about $150.

Photo: blackCAT via gettyimages.com

Repaint a Piece of Furniture

There are just five steps to this weekend DIY project to make an old dresser, chair, or piece of furniture new again! Sand it. Remove the residue. Prime it. Paint it. Protect it! That’s it! The list of tools includes:

  • Sander and sandpaper 
  • Tack cloth 
  • Primer-Sealer
  • Mini roller 
  • Semi-gloss latex paint or chalked paint
  • Polycrylic protective finish 

For best results, sand your piece first, even if the paint you select indicates it’s not required. Tack cloth is the only way to remove residue from your hardware to ensure no lint. For under $200, your old piece of furniture will become like new again. You will have a beautiful showpiece for your home at a budget price and a WOW look in just one weekend.

Install a New Kitchen Island

This intermediate-level project can take 4-40 hours depending on your decisions before you start. It’s a good idea to draw your basic design on a piece of paper or use a computer to layout the kitchen with the new island. Many home stores will also offer free advice. Think about how big you want the new island to be and how you will use the island before you even step into a store. 

There are basically four main steps to this DIY project, starting with planning and ending with installing the new island and reconnecting plumbing. Because of the many options and variations in island styles, countertop materials, and hardware, the cost can range from $300 up to thousands of dollars. The tools you need are:

  • Basic hand tools
  • Tape measure
  • New kitchen island
  • Flooring

What are you waiting for? You are only a weekend away from home improvements that will make major long-term improvements in your home for fractions of the cost of having someone else do it for you. And you can’t beat the satisfaction of DIY!